Here’s a quick little lesson for those who want to learn Japanese (or who want to travel in Japan and want to sound like they know Japanese). English has a whole lot of loadwords which originally came from Japanese – for example, sashimi, or tsunami, or Osaka. As per typical English pronunciation rules, the stress in these words tend to fall on the second syllable. SaSHImi, tsuNAmi, oSAka. Japanese, however, doesn’t have syllabic stresses at all (though there is a slight tonal stress which I never quite got the hang of). The best way to approximate this without too much effort is to put a stress on the first syllable instead of the second. SAshimi, TSUnami, Osaka. Now you too can sound like a local!
Today, we had breakfast.
Then it was time to check out of our hotel, and embark on our longest period of travelling between hotels. I mean, aside from the trip over the Alpine Route, though that doesn’t really count, because the Alpine Route itself was our activity for the day. Today we travelled from Shin-Osaka to our next (and, sadly, final) hotel, in Chiba, on the east side of Tokyo, via shinkansen.
It was a comfy enough trip, as all shinkansen trips have been, but also quite full – lots of westerners boarded at Kyoto (though not all went all the way to Tokyo), so sadly we weren’t able to get a window seat. We shared a row of three with two other people. I calculated when we’d be passing Mount Fuji, and headed out to the carriage vestibule to take photos through the door’s window, but although we’d even seen blue sky in places, Fuji was completely concealed by very dark grey clouds. That’s Fuji in the third image below.
Actually, one thing we noticed along the way was that all the rivers were running very high. Not sure if that was from the rain or from snowmelt. All the rice paddies seemed to be flooded too, but maybe they’re just getting ready for planting season.
We arrived in Tokyo shortly past 1pm, so we decided to grab some lunch from the station’s food court – we both ordered dumplings from a Chinese-style dumpling shop. I had a mixed box of shumai, while James had got a special deal of twelve boiled dumplings for the price of ten, and a “premium” meat bun. Then we headed to the train for Chiba.
Our hotel in Chiba (again Toyoko Inn) is just a short walk from Chiba Station. The surrounding blocks are full of love hotels and hostess bars, though. When we checked in to the hotel, there was a man behind the counter. An actual man. Never seen one at Toyoko Inn before.
We actually managed to arrive right at the time we could first check in, for the first time this trip, so we stuck our luggage in our room, had a short break, then went out for a wander. For another first-time thing for me, the beds in this room run lengthwise, with the pillow end under the window – every other hotel has had the beds running crosswise… like pretty much every other hotel room ever.
First we headed for Chiba Shrine, which was just a few minutes walk away. We passed under the Chiba Monorail on the way – we’ve actually got a monorail station on both sides of our hotel, Chiba Station a few blocks on one side, and Sakaecho Station a few blocks on the other. Chiba Shrine was certainly a little bit different to any other shrine I’d seen – the main building has two floors, with a worship hall on each floor.
After Chiba Shrine, we pretty much just wandered the streets in a big loop, and when we found ourselves back at the train line, we decided to get some dinner at Mos Burger. I had a teriyaki chicken burger, with chips and a very thick milkshake. Yum.
From the table in Mos Burger, I happened to spot a branch of a dagashiya (traditional Japanese sweet shop) chain in a shopping street built under the railway line, so we popped over there. As a chain, it was all packaged snacks rather than actual traditional ones, but it was still entirely filled with chocolates and lollies and chips and crackers and other snacks and weird things, and it was also full of people buying things. I can’t even imagine having a shop like that in Australia. I bought myself a bamkuchen for dessert, but it’s probably nicer fresh.
We decided to head back to the hotel at that point to actually get an early night for a change. Firstly, though, I had to fix my camera strap – one of the attachment points had come untied, and managed to slip free as we were heading for Chiba Shrine, but luckily I caught my camera by pure reflex before it fell. I spent way too long trying to thread the string back through the hole, until I worked out I could just pull out the string completely, loop a thread around the middle, and use that thread to pull the string though the hole, and it was done just like that. Almost annoyingly simple.
So, blog’s done now. Pretty short, but we did spend half the day on a train. Still trying to hammer down exactly what our plans for tomorrow are – I’d run out of steam a bit by this point in the planning, so I’ve just written “something in Tokyo”. Time for an early night, however.
Today’s photo count: A mere two hundred and ninety-three
Today’s pedometer count: Just 9371 steps, for 6.4km
Today’s goshuin count: One – Chiba Shrine
Today’s stamp count: None